September 7th, 2017
Start the school year with a smile:
It’s the start of a new school year, and your kids are set with new clothes and school supplies. But don’t forget about oral health! Add these dental health tips to your back-to-school checklist.
1. Take your kids to the dentist
Start the school year right with a dental cleaning and exam. Ask your child’s dentist about sealants and fluoride treatments to prevent decay. These treatments are easy ways to stop cavities before they start. And they can even improve your child’s performance at school. A third of children miss school because of oral health problems, according to Delta Dental’s 2015 Children’s Oral Health Survey.
2. Pick the right snacks
Swap out lunch box no-no's such as fruit roll-ups and sticky granola bars with healthy alternatives. Instead of chips or crackers, try nuts. Salty snacks may seem healthy because they don’t contain sugar, but simple starches can be just as bad. These snacks break down into a sticky goo, coating teeth and promoting decay. Replace juice and soda with milk or water. Avoid candies and cakes, offering crunchy snacks like celery sticks, baby carrots and cubes of cheddar cheese.
3. Make brushing and flossing fun
To keep their mouths healthy, kids need to brush twice a day for two minutes at a time. Kids should brush their teeth after breakfast before heading out to school. They should also floss every day, preferably after dinner. Try these tricks to make oral hygiene more exciting:
- Use a sticker calendar. Let your kids place stickers on each day to represent brushing and flossing.
- 2-minute timer. Purchase a sand filled plastic egg timer from the dollar store. Two minutes is longer than you think. They can flip it at the beginning of their brushing
- Play music. Collect your kids’ favorite two-minute songs and make sure they brush the whole time.
- Personalize. Help your child pick a themed toothbrush in his or her favorite color.
- Practice learning ABC's while brushing- It takes about the same amount of time to sing the ABC song as is does to thoroughly brush the teeth.
- Provide a kid-friendly floss holder. These Y-shaped devices make flossing more comfortable
The most important thing is to get your kids into a good routine with their after-school activites, homework, bathing and taking care of their teeth. Routine is key. Remember their mid-year dental checkup and schedule any wisdom tooth removals for school breaks like the end of the year or spring break so as not to interfere with important projects and exams.
Emma Etemadi DDS, PS and Jessica H.Y. Chen DDS, PS at Duvall Family Dental
*adapted from Delta Dental